“Children and the Future of Our Country”

12.12.09 – Donna Garner – How concerned are you that the federal government is orchestrating a complete takeover of our public schools?

Children and the Future of Our Country”
by Donna Garner

12.11.09

 

How concerned are you that the federal government is orchestrating a complete takeover of our public schools?  It is happening as we speak.  Are you concerned enough to read through the following articles to gain insight into the issue and then to express your concerns to your elected Congressmen?  

 

First is an article by Williamson M. Evers and Ze’ev Wurman (12.11.09) in which they discuss their concerns over the Common Core Standards and offer an alternative plan. 

 

Next, I have posted  “Federal Takeover of Our Public Schools: Plea from Tx. Comm. Robert Scott” (12.2.09) with his accompanying letter to U. S. Senator John Cornyn.

 

Underneath that, I have posted two articles, “The Timing of the National Takeover of the Public Schools” and “Comparison of Common Core Standards vs. Texas’ English / Language Arts / Reading Standards.”

 

These articles should offer you enough background information to equip you to contact your Congressmen.  If you care, you will do something.  If you do not care, you will just sit back and let the federal government take control over every student and teacher in the public schools.   

 

Donna Garner

Wgarner1@hot.rr.com

 

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http://jaypgreene.com/2009/12/11/alternative-needed-to-common-core-an-additional-consortium-for-%e2%80%8ecommon-standards/

http://www.educationnews.org/reports/7631.html

Alternative Needed to Common Core: An Additional Consortium for ‎Common Standards

(Guest Post by Williamson M. Evers & Ze’ev Wurman — 12.11.09)

A consortium to develop a set of “research-based and internationally benchmarked” college and career-ready standards in mathematics and in English-language arts (ELA) was established earlier this year by the National Governor’s Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), in partnership with Achieve, the College Board, and ACT.

This consortium was presented as a voluntary effort by the states, and in this way, it claimed to avoid the statutory prohibition of a federally-imposed national curriculum. So far 48 states (all except Alaska and Texas) have joined the initiative, and the consortium released its first draft of its proposed high-school “college and career readiness” standards late this last September.  Nonetheless, the Texas chief state school officer calls this project an effort “by the U. S. Department of Education” to impose “a national curriculum and testing system” and “a step toward a federal takeover” of public schools across the nation.

However, all is not well with the Common Core State Standards Initiative (CCSSI), as the effort has come to be known. In fact, many of the early concerns about such a national effort have materialized. They have to do both with the process and with the content.

In terms of process, the identity of the actual authors of the “college and career readiness” standards was kept secret for a long time and, when the names were finally published, it became clear that CCSSI had included few subject-matter experts among them. Only after early ones were leaked to the public in July did CCSSI finally publish its official draft “college and career readiness standards” for ELA and mathematics in September.  CCSSI finally also published the names of the members of its various committees, but these seem to keep growing in number and their membership changing.

CCSSI’s timeline calls for supplementing its “college and career readiness” standards with grade-by-grade K-12 standards, with the entire effort to be finished by “early 2010.” This schedule is supposed to include drafting, review, and public comment. As anyone who had to do such a task knows, such a process for a single state takes many months, and CCSSI’s timeline raises deep concerns about whether the public and the states can provide in-depth feedback on those standards–and, more important, whether standards that are of high quality can possibly emerge from the non-transparent process CCSSI is using.

The situation is, not surprisingly, worse on the content side. The proposed English-Language Arts “college and career readiness” standards (which we are told are not high school graduation standards) are largely a list of content-free generic skills. Rather than focusing on what English teachers are trained to teach (quality literature), the drafters seem to expect English teachers to teach reading strategies presumed to help students to cope with biology or economics textbooks.

In mathematics, the standards are perhaps even worse. While essentially all four-year state colleges require at least three years of high school mathematics, including Algebra 1, Algebra 2, and Geometry or above, CCSSI’s standards require only Algebra 1 and few bits and pieces from Algebra 2 and Geometry. In other words, students who graduate from high school having taken only math coursework addressing those standards (and presumably having passed a test based on them) will be inadmissible to any four-year college around the country.

This ill-advised rush to have national standards ready by early 2010 is driven by the U.S. Department of Education’s Race to the Top (RttT) $4 billion competitive-grant fund. Its final regulations, published in November, give a strong advantage to states that develop and adopt “common standards,” and, in these hard economic times, states will not be easily able to justify declining to pursue this money.

In late November, 2009, the Texas chief state school officer complained—quite justifiably on the face of it—that Texas is being discriminated against by the RttT criteria because it chose not to join the wild  rush to the standards. And indeed a wild rush it is. A bill introduced at the beginning of December in the California legislature to qualify the state for the RttT money proposes adopting CCSSI’s standards sight unseen.  Not even a complete draft of the grade-by grade standards has been finished yet.

Yet, if the President and Congress are going to use carrots and sticks to create national standards, we need to look for a way out of the current Common Core morass. The federal rules for the RttT money could not and do not explicitly require the adoption of CCSSI’s standards. Instead, the rules provide a general requirement:  States are to participate in a “consortium of states” that is developing a common set of K–12 standards which are “internationally benchmarked” and tied to “college and career readiness” and that includes “a significant number of States.”

Given the low goals of the “college and career readiness” standards proposed by CCSSI– to judge by its September draft–it makes sense to set up an alternative consortium.  That consortium would be composed of states whose standards have been highly rated by academic experts– like California or Massachusetts — together with states like Texas and Alaska whose reluctance to jump on the Common Core bandwagon has been clearly vindicated.

The new consortium would endeavor to create better and more rigorous academic standards than those of the CCSSI. These alternative standards will be truly internationally benchmarked. With over twenty per cent of the American population, such a consortium of states would easily qualify as “significant” as well. Such states might even be joined by other states that do not want to embrace the intellectually impoverished and internationally uncompetitive Common Core standards.

Drab and mediocre national standards will retard the efforts of advanced states like Massachusetts and reduce academic expectations for students in all states.

Yes, it is late in the game. But this should not be an excuse for us to accept the inferior standards that at present seem to be coming from the rushed effort of CCSSO and NGA.

 

Williamson M. Evers is a research fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution and former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Education for policy. Ze’ev Wurman is a former senior policy adviser in the U.S. Department of Education.

 

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“Federal Takeover of Our Public Schools: Plea from Tx. Comm. Robert Scott”

12.2.09

 

[While the majority of Americans have been battling ObamaCare, an equally ominous occurrence is taking place right under our noses.  In the following letter to Texas Senator John Cornyn, Texas Commissioner of Education Robert Scott explains his deep concerns over the federal takeover of our nation’s public schools using the lure of federal dollars that we taxpayers have supplied. 

 

As of 11.6.09, all states except for Texas and Alaska have pledged to adopt the “whole package of Common Core Standards.” This will mean national standards, national curriculum, and national tests. History has shown us that the way to change the direction of a country is to indoctrinate the school children.  

 

Texas Governor Perry and Texas Commissioner of Education Scott both believe that the Common Core Standards are an attempt by the federal government to take over the public schools. Since the test scores of individual students on mandated tests are now being tracked to individual teachers, this means that teachers will obviously "teach to the tests" because teachers will be incentivized to help their students do well on the mandated tests. Thus, day-to-day classroom instruction will be built around whatever is on the mandated tests.  With the federal government in charge of national standards upon which the national tests will be built, teachers will spend their classroom time teaching whatever is on those national tests. 

 

Please read Commissioner Scott’s letter and voice your outrage to Congress -- no federally controlled standards, no federally controlled curriculum, no federally controlled tests.  We need to be just as vehement about the federalization of our public schools as we are about the federalization of our healthcare. The future of our nation depends upon our children, “the citizens of tomorrow.” -- Donna Garner]

 

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November 25, 2009

 

 

The Honorable John Cornyn

United States Senate

517 Hart Senate Office Building

Washington, DC  20515

 

Dear Senator Cornyn:

 

I am writing to express my deep concerns regarding recent efforts by the U. S. Department of Education (USDE) to adopt a national curriculum and testing system in the United States. This effort can be seen as a step toward a federal takeover of the nation’s public schools.

 

As you are likely aware, a number of entities that develop and market education assessments and materials and several non-profits have banded together in an effort they have named the “Common Core Standards Initiative.” I believe that the true intention of this effort is to establish one set of national education standards and national tests across the country. Originally sold to states as voluntary, states have now been told that participation in national standards and national testing would be required as a condition of receiving federal discretionary grant funding under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) administered by the USDE. The effort has now become a cornerstone of the Administration’s education policy through the USDE’s prioritization of adoption of national standards and aligned national tests in receiving federal funds. The Secretary of Education has already reserved $650 million of ARRA funds for the production of these national tests.

 

In short, because Texas has chosen to preserve its sovereign authority to determine what is appropriate for Texas children to learn in its public schools, the state is now placed at a serious disadvantage in competing for its share of ARRA discretionary funding. Billed by Secretary Duncan as the “Race to the Top,” (RTTT) it appears that the USDE is placing its desire for a federal takeover of public education above the interests of the 4.7 million schoolchildren in the state of Texas by setting two different starting lines – one for nearly every other state in the country and one for Texas.

 

Texas has consistently maintained that states should retain their authority to determine the curriculum and testing requirements for their students. The elected Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) sets the standards Texas students are supposed to meet for each subject taught in the public school system. Texas law requires the direct participation of educators, parents, business and industry representatives, and employers in the development of the standards. Through this process, Texas has recently adopted college-ready math, English language arts, and science standards and will soon complete work on the social studies standards. The state has purchased new textbooks, created targeted professional development for our teachers, and developed new assessments aligned with these new standards. Joining the national standards and national testing movement would require Texas taxpayers to re-spend at least $3 billion.

 

If the USDE has its way, Texas’ process, along with every other state that has a similar process, will be negated. With the release of the RTTT application, it is clear that the first step toward nationalization of our schools has been put into place. I do not believe that the requirements will end with the RTTT; I believe that USDE will utilize the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) to further the administration’s federal takeover of public schools, including withholding billions of dollars from our disadvantaged and special education students.

 

Ronald Reagan once said, “I believe a case can be made that the decline in the quality of public school education began when federal aid to education became federal interference in education.” Having the federal government use Washington-based special interest groups and vendors as proxy for the USDE in setting national curriculum standards and then using ARRA federal discretionary funds to develop national tests for every child in the nation represents unprecedented intrusiveness by the federal government into the personal lives of our children and their families.

 

I encourage and invite you to stand with me against national curriculum standards and national tests. The authority to determine what students in our public schools should learn properly resides with states, local school boards and parents. The federal government should not be engaging in activity that seeks to undermine our ability to determine what will be taught in our schools.

 

Sincerely,

 

 

Robert Scott

Texas Commissioner of Education

 

“Texas Rejects Plan to Adopt National Standards,” Dallas Morning News, 6.23.09: http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/dn/latestnews/stories/062409dnmetedstandards.3caa24c.html

 

“States Slow Standards Work Amid ‘Common Core’ Push,” Education Week, 11.6.09: http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2009/11/11/11standards_ep.h29.html?tkn=LWLCBoXHT3Zqye807EY%2Fdg%2Bmbclf7klvEPBu

 

 

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“The Timing of the National Takeover of the Public Schools”

by Donna Garner

12.4.09

 

The 48 state Governors (except for Texas and Alaska) signed the Common Core standards adoption agreements before the public was told about the national tests.  

 

U. S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan waited until the state contracts were signed before he made the rest of the plan clear:

 

  • At least 85% of states’ standards must be the Common Core.

 

  • National tests would be created based upon those 85%. 

 

  • To get the Race to the Top funds, states would have to be a part of the Common Core. 

 

  • To get the Race To the Top funds, states would also have to implement an elaborate tracking system (provided by none other than Bill Gates I feel sure) that would link student test scores to individual teachers.

 

  • This obviously means that teachers, whose merit pay will depend upon how their students do on the national tests, will teach their students a national curriculum to get them ready for the national tests.

 

  • The vendors/lobbyists will be only too glad to develop the national curriculum, and they will love having to deal with The Beltway crowd rather than having to get their wares vetted through individual state textbook/instructional materials adoption processes where the products are required to pass through public hearings with conscientious citizens who check for factual errors.   

 

  • States can fool around with the 15% in their state standards all they want to, but the reality is that their teachers will teach the 85% because their salaries will depend upon it.

 

In my mind, anyone who thinks the U. S. Dept. of Ed. Is not heavily guiding the development of the Common Core Standards is not “reading the tea leaves right.” This plan actually goes all the way back to the National Center on Education and the Economy (NCEE) and has been sitting on a shelf waiting to emerge when the right players were in place in Washington, D. C.

 

 

Here are excerpts from the EdWeek article on 10.20.09:

 

As 48 states charge ahead with plans to adopt common academic standards, the U.S. Department of Education will enlist experts and the public to help design a $350 million competition for the next step: the development of common tests…

Education Secretary Arne Duncan said as much in June, to some of the nation’s governors: “Some people may claim that a commonly created test is a threat to state control—but let’s remember who is in charge. You are. You will create these tests. You will drive the process. You will call the shots.”

…The $350 million that has been earmarked for assessments is a piece of the larger $4.35 billion Race to the Top Fund, which was created as part of the $787 billion economic-stimulus package passed by Congress in February. Earlier this year, Mr. Duncan announced he would peel off a chunk of Race to the Top specifically to help states develop common assessments that would piggyback on the common-standards effort. (“Stimulus Seeks Enriched Tests,” Aug. 12, 2009.)…

The Education Department is trying to usher along this effort, too, by linking a state’s participation in common standards—and the development of common assessments—to the separate competition for Race to the Top grants. Participation in both efforts for common standards and assessments would give states a competitive edge, according to draft regulations the department released in July. (“‘Race to Top’ Guidelines Stress Use of Test Data,” July 23, 2009.)

If and when states can agree on a common set of standards, many education policy experts have said, the next step would be to develop common tests by which to assess students’ progress on the new standards, which could carry a hefty price tag.

Donna Garner

Wgarner1@hot.rr.com

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“Comparison of Common Core Standards vs. Texas’ English / Language Arts / Reading Standards”

by Donna Garner

12.3.09

 

 

If you want to view the new Texas English / Language Arts / Reading standards (TEKS) in K-12 that are being implemented this school year, please go to: http://ritter.tea.state.tx.us/rules/tac/chapter110/index.html.  

 

To view the Common Core Reading, Writing, Speaking, Listening draft (Sept. 21, 2009) go to:  http://www.gatesfoundation.org/united-states/Documents/ELAStandardsSources.pdf

 

 

To help you in your comparison, please notice how the ELAR standards are grouped. Texas’ ELAR standards have completely different strand designations from the Common Core. Texas’ old ELAR’s were grouped under Reading, Writing, Speaking, Listening, and Viewing/Representing, similar to the Common Core standards. The names themselves caused our old standards to be much too generic, ineffective, and mushy.

I have posted excerpts from just the grammar strand (Grades 4-12) that are found in our new Texas ELAR standards (TEKS).

Please notice that our Texas standards are explicit, measurable, grade-level-specific, knowledge-based, academic, and that they grow in depth and complexity from one grade level to the next. This is the way it should be to help teachers and students target specific learning goals. Without specific and well-articulated elements, both teachers and students become lost in the murkiness of broad, generic statements.  

 

I believe that our Texas standards are a road map instead of a wish list and that the Common Core standards are a wish list. 

 

Also of importance is that all Texas students are to be taught to master our ELAR-TEKS standards, not just the College-Ready students as the Common Core standards seem to intimate. — Donna Garner]

 

 

TEXAS’ NEW ELAR TEKS – GRAMMAR STRAND


GRADE 4

 

20) Oral and Written Conventions/Conventions. Students understand the function of and use the conventions of academic language when speaking and writing. Students continue to apply earlier standards with greater complexity. Students are expected to:
(A) use and understand the function of the following parts of speech in the context of reading, writing, and speaking:
(i) verbs (irregular verbs);
(ii) nouns (singular/plural, common/proper);
(iii) adjectives (e.g., descriptive, including purpose: sleeping bag, frying pan) and their comparative and superlative forms (e.g., fast, faster, fastest);
(iv) adverbs (e.g., frequency: usually, sometimes; intensity: almost, a lot);
(v) prepositions and prepositional phrases to convey location, time, direction, or to provide details;
(vi) reflexive pronouns (e.g., myself, ourselves);
(vii) correlative conjunctions (e.g., either/or, neither/nor); and
(viii) use time-order transition words and transitions that indicate a conclusion;
(B) use the complete subject and the complete predicate in a sentence; and
(C) use complete simple and compound sentences with correct subject-verb agreement.

(21) Oral and Written Conventions/Handwriting, Capitalization, and Punctuation. Students write legibly and use appropriate capitalization and punctuation conventions in their compositions. Students are expected to:
(A) write legibly by selecting cursive script or manuscript printing as appropriate;
(B) use capitalization for:
(i) historical events and documents;
(ii) titles of books, stories, and essays; and
(iii) languages, races, and nationalities; and
(C) recognize and use punctuation marks including:
(i) commas in compound sentences; and
(ii) quotation marks.

 


GRADE 5

 

(20) Oral and Written Conventions/Conventions. Students understand the function of and use the conventions of academic language when speaking and writing. Students continue to apply earlier standards with greater complexity. Students are expected to:
(A) use and understand the function of the following parts of speech in the context of reading, writing, and speaking:
(i) verbs (irregular verbs and active voice);
(ii) collective nouns (e.g., class, public);
(iii) adjectives (e.g., descriptive, including origins: French windows, American cars) and their comparative and superlative forms (e.g., good, better, best);
(iv) adverbs (e.g., frequency: usually, sometimes; intensity: almost, a lot);
(v) prepositions and prepositional phrases to convey location, time, direction, or to provide details;
(vi) indefinite pronouns (e.g., all, both, nothing, anything);
(vii) subordinating conjunctions (e.g., while, because, although, if); and
(viii) transitional words (e.g., also, therefore);
(B) use the complete subject and the complete predicate in a sentence; and
(C) use complete simple and compound sentences with correct subject-verb agreement.

(21) Oral and Written Conventions/Handwriting, Capitalization, and Punctuation. Students write legibly and use appropriate capitalization and punctuation conventions in their compositions. Students are expected to:
(A) use capitalization for:
(i) abbreviations;
(ii) initials and acronyms; and
(iii) organizations;
(B) recognize and use punctuation marks including:
(i) commas in compound sentences; and
(ii) proper punctuation and spacing for quotations; and
(C) use proper mechanics including italics and underlining for titles and emphasis.


 


GRADE 6

 

(19) Oral and Written Conventions/Conventions. Students understand the function of and use the conventions of academic language when speaking and writing. Students will continue to apply earlier standards with greater complexity. Students are expected to:
(A) use and understand the functi

Comments


  1. tory burch

    wow,good post,
    thanks for your shanring,it’s useful and valuable information.

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December 11th, 2009

Donna Garner EducationNews Policy Commentator

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